According to a new US study, children born during the pandemic have significantly reduced verbal, motor and overall cognitive performance compared to those born before.
The study attributes this decline to a lack of adequate stimulation. The COVID-19 crisis has led to businesses, schools, nurseries and playgrounds being closed and parents struggling to cope with the pressures of balancing home and work life.
Limited interaction with the world outside, coupled with a lack of stimulation at home, has impeded cognitive development during the crucial early years of childhood, lead study author and Associate Professor of Paediatrics (research) at Brown University Sean Deoni told the Guardian.
The research, which is yet to be peer reviewed, included general cognitive scores of 672 children from the state of Rhode Island, of whom 188 were born after July 2020 and 308 were born before January 2019.
Most of the children included in the study were white. All were born full term and none had any known developmental disabilities. While the mean IQ score on standardised tests for children between three months and three years of age was around 100 in the previous decade, the figure plummeted to 78 for children born during the pandemic.
Additionally, scores were especially low for those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. As the children in the study belonged to a relatively affluent part of the U.S., researchers fear the results may be even worse in economically weaker areas and countries.